Zero Wing (ゼロウィング) is a side-scrolling shoot 'em up arcade game developed by Toaplan and published by Taito. The player is a lone hero who will save the universe from an evil force. It enjoyed a degree of success in arcades and was subsequently ported to the Genesis on May 31, 1991, in Japan. The European version was the source for All your base are belong to us
, an Internet meme which plays off of the poorly translated English in the game's introduction.
As with other scrolling shooters, the aim of the game is to shoot all enemies that appear on screen and avoid getting obliterated by enemy fire, crashing into enemies or into foreground scenery. There are mid-level and end-of-level boss enemies that stay with the player until they are defeated. The game features eight levels, each a few minutes long and featuring different styles and enemies: Natols, Legrous, Pleades, Aquese, Submarine Tunnel, Barricade Zone, Bellon, Gerbarra.
After it became fairly successful in the arcades and game centers, Zero Wing was ported to the Mega Drive in 1991 by Toaplan themselves and the CD-ROM², an add-on for the PC Engine, by Naxat Soft in 1992. The Mega Drive version was also released in Europe by Sega in 1992. The home console versions of Zero Wing were never released in North America due to the release of the arcade version distributed by Williams Electronics, as well as the Japanese release will play fine on American consoles, like most early titles it had no region protection nor had the Europan release been PAL-optimized.
In the Mega Drive version, to expand on the game's plot, Toaplan added an introductory cut scene to the game. This introductory scene was translated by Sega of Europe to English from Japanese rather poorly for the European release (a phenomenon dubbed Engrish), resulting in dialogue such as "Somebody set up us the bomb", "All your base are belong to us", and "You have no chance to survive make your time". The introduction does not appear in the arcade nor CD-ROM² versions, rather, a different intro takes place with a blue-windowed ZIG.
GameTrailers listed the Mega Drive version of Zero Wing as the seventh-worst video game in its "10 Best and Worst Video Games", though the focus was on its bad translation. However, in a later ScrewAttack review, it was noted the game was "not that bad". It praised its soundtrack, stating that it contains "some of the best 16-bit rock music you'll ever hear". Retro review site HonestGamers noted that "Much is made of this game, all things considered. And it's funny, because there's not a whole lot to it," before awarding a lackluster score of 4/10.